American Cornball

American Cornball : A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny

3.98 (64 ratings by Goodreads)
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American Cornball is Christopher Miller's irresistibly funny illustrated survey of popular humor--the topics that used to make us laugh, from hiccups and henpecked-husbands to outhouses and old maids--and what it tells us about our country yesterday and today.

Miller revisits nearly 200 comic staples that have been passed down through our culture for generations, many originating from the vaudeville age. He explores the (often unseemly) contexts from which they arose, why they were funny in their time, and why they eventually lost their appeal. The result is a kind of taxonomy of humor during America's golden age that provides a deeper, more profound look at the prejudices, preoccupations, and peculiarities of a nation polarized between urban and rural, black and white, highborn and lowbrow.

As he touches on issues of racism and sexism, cultural stereotypes and violence, Miller reveals how dramatically our moral sensibilities have shifted, most notably in the last few decades. Complete with more than 100 period illustrations, American Cornball is a richly entertaining survey of our shifting comic universe.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 530 pages
  • 132 x 203 x 38mm | 499g
  • Harper Paperbacks
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0062225189
  • 9780062225184
  • 2,078,988

Review quote

"An uncommonly brilliant idea...extremely clever...Miller's utterly brilliant encyclopedia of things that were 'formerly funny' in America..."--Buffalo News
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Back cover copy

Christopher Miller's American Cornball is an indispensable history of our shared legacy of forgotten humor by one of our wittiest cultural observers; it's also "that rare book on humor that is as entertaining as its subject" (Publishers Weekly). From hiccups and henpecked husbands to outhouses and old maids, Miller revisits nearly two hundred comic staples, their (often unseemly) origins, their cultural roots, and what they reveal about American society. The result is a grand tour of the world we came from and too often forget--a world of black and white, highborn and lowbrow, witty and wacky, the awkward and the sublime.

Complete with more than two hundred period illustrations, American Cornball is a masterwork of cultural excavation . . . and a genuine laff riot.
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Rating details

64 ratings
3.98 out of 5 stars
5 30% (19)
4 47% (30)
3 16% (10)
2 8% (5)
1 0% (0)
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